Reasons Why Judo is better for your Kids than Team Sports
Self Defense - Teaches you techniques to defend yourself, but also the way to think about defending yourself. It also helps you build up your reflexes and confidence to fight back.
Self Confidence - As children become more proficient in Judo, their confidence gets a big-boost. They become more self-assured and confident. Their Sensei's encouragement goes a long way to help them achieve this goal, but the confidence level will extend far beyond the Dojo.
Belts and Ranking - Belts and ranking help build your child's confidence and their desire to succeed. Judo uses a system of Coloured belts to indicate the knowledge and skill levels of Judoka. Belts are a great way to help children track their progress and motivate them to strive higher.
Discipline - In Judo, there is constant repetition in drills and practices with emphasis on details and rhythm. Throws are repeated over and over. When practicing or competing there are rules and protocols to be followed. All of this teaches children to respect one another, their opponents and colleagues, and how to play games fair and square. These lessons will follow them in their every day life. It also teaches them the benefits of frequent practice, and the patience to get there.
Individual Achievement - In hockey there are only five starters and a goalie, yet there are typically seventeen on a team. This means most of the team will be on the bench. This is typical of most team sports. This also means that each player gets only about 1/3 of the game to actually play. In Judo, each child's success is based on his or her own individual merits. Your kid may not be the most winning Judoka in his Judo class, but that will be because he tried and lost, and not because the team was short benched. Your child will also not be stuck on a "bad team". Since each child has an opportunity to play, there is also no scapegoat to blame if they don't win and there is the opportunity to do better at the next tournament.
Gender Equity - Judo is one of the few sports where both boys and girls can train together. It gives brothers and sisters an opportunity to practice together and learn from one another as well.
Exercise - The typical one hour Judo class will often be comprised of warm-up calisthenics, teaching and practicing of moves and sparring. The warm up and practice comprise the bulk of the time. During that time your child will be constantly on the go stretching, rolling, jumping and controlled falling. The workout each child gets will not only assist in the natural development of his or her muscles, but also help them build stronger Cardio-Vascular systems.
Respect for Strength - The first thing the parents of (even slightly) mischievous children think about when they send their kids to martial arts class is: "Is my kid going to use this to hurt others?" Although this is a legitimate concern, it is always addressed early by instructors who remind students that the techniques they learn in the dojo stay in the dojo (except in self-defense), and shouldn't be used to bully people. As children learn Judo, they will learn to respect their newfound strength and techniques. They will also gain a disdain for bullying as well.
Competition - Competition is great for kids to test their skills and show their progress. Unlike team sports, the loser can't really blame anyone beyond his or herself. But then this gives them a sense of respect for their opponent, as well as motivation to do better the next time. Unlike team sports, which treat each game as a leg in the entire season, each tournament is a fresh start, and it is seldom that you get only one match.
You can do it with them - The Atlantic Training Center offers classes for both adults and children. While these classes are not run simultaneously, they are usually right after the other. This means that you can watch your children workout, and then they can watch you. This will give you a special activity to use as a bonding tool with your kids. You can also become physically fit together.
Never Ending Season - Many team sports like soccer, football and hockey are seasonal. Judo is a year round sport. In Judo, a bad tournament only puts you out until the next tournament, and your exercise routine remains constant the entire year. Having this consistency also helps build upon discipline, and allows children to progress very quickly.
Exercise Your Mind - Judo teaches much more than fighting strategies. While learning how to break your opponents balance and throwing techniques, Judoka's learn Mechanical Physics. Combination techniques and follow-ups teach improvisation. Judoka's will also learn a lot of Japanese.
Judo isn't about brute force, it is about control - Dr. Jigoro Kano (the founder of Judo) emphasized the concept of maximum efficiency. This is evident in many of the Judo techniques where it is not necessarily brute force, but using your opponents movements and strength against them. While physical strength and size are important, mental strength is probably the most vital factor in competition.
Coordination - When you're using your opponents moves against them, timing is everything. Many of the throws in Judo will simply not work if you don't time them correctly. Feet, hands, hips and head all need to move in fluid and exact timed motions to properly execute a throw (which is why an Ippon or full point is so hard to achieve in competition). As your child practices they will learn more complex throws and in turn will demonstrate better reflexes and coordination as a result.
Judo is Universal - There are over a hundred member countries in the International Judo Federation. Although the styles of teaching and ranking and promotion standards vary slightly from country to country, Judo is Judo. This means that no matter which Dojo you go to in the world Judo is always the same. This will help your child stick with it, even into adulthood, as it will never be hard to find a dojo to train in, and the material will always be the same even if the location is not.